250 Palestinians travel from the Gaza Strip to Jerusalem, attend Friday prayers at al-Aqsa
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — More than 200 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip traveled to occupied East Jerusalem to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Palestinian liaison officials. The officials told Ma‘an that 250 Palestinian worshippers, all above the age of 50, traveled to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing between the besieged enclave and Israel to attend prayers, before immediately returning to the Gaza Strip. The number of Palestinians permitted to worship at Al-Aqsa was reduced by Israel in recent weeks, as Israeli authorities have typically permitted 300 elderly Palestinians from the small Palestinian territory to travel to Al-Aqsa every Friday….
6 Palestinians injured with Israeli live fire in Gaza clashes
GAZA (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — Six Palestinians were reportedly injured with live fire in clashes with Israeli forces east of Gaza City’s al-Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip during clashes on Friday. Palestinian Spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, said six people were injured, including one critically, by Israeli live fire east of al-Bureij refugee camp, the site of frequent clashes with Israeli forces in recent months. Al-Qidra said a 25-year-old was seriously injured, and a 21-year-old was moderately injured, without giving further details about other injuries.
Has Hamas lost its monopoly on tunnel business in Gaza?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 4 Aug by Hana Salah — Until recently, Hamas has been the only movement that has used tunnels since the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip took full effect in 2007. Hamas’ use of the tunnels had started to increase after the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the summer of 2006 during a Gaza cross-border raid. Its use of the tunnels increased further during the 2014 war as it used the tunnels to launch missiles, carry out attacks against Israeli forces and kidnap soldiers. However, these tunnels appear to no longer be the preserve of Hamas — Islamic Jihad has joined in. On July 10, Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, issued a statement in which it announced for the first time the death of one of its members following the collapse of a tunnel established by the resistance in the northern Gaza Strip. However, Al-Quds Brigades provided no further details on whether the tunnel was established by Islamic Jihad alone or jointly with Hamas. I addition, local media sources reported July 18 the death of another member of Al-Quds Brigades due to the collapse of a tunnel east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Then, Al-Quds Brigades merely issued a statement announcing the death of a “preparation martyr,” a term used by military wings to describe the martyrs who die while training, digging tunnels or trying out weapons to be used in battles. The brigades gave no further details about the incident….
Qatar to pay salaries of 23,800 civil servants in Gaza
MEMO 2 Aug by Mohammad Asad — Qatar will pay the salaries of civil servants in the Gaza Strip, the Head of the National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Ambassador Mohammed Al-Emadi, said. A total of 23,800 employees will have their salaries compensated, and the funds have already been deposited into the National Committee’s account. Qatar’s Prince Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani instructed the payments to be made in order to alleviate the suffering of the citizens of the Gaza Strip, Al-Emadi said, adding that the grant is valued at $31 million. The funds will be distributed over the coming weeks. “Today we will send the lists of names of employees to the relevant authorities.” Al-Emadi also announced several new projects worth $40 million, which include the $20 million Salah Al-Din Road project, $10 million to begin the second phase of Hamad Town, and another $10 million for other projects. The National Committee is in talks with the Israeli occupation regarding the continuing crises plaguing the Gaza Strip, he added, including discussions surrounding the electricity and gas supplies.
Palestinian banks refuse Qatari grant for Gaza employees
MEMO 3 Aug — Palestinian banks have refused to receive the Qatari grant for Palestinian government employees recruited during Hamas’ rule of the Gaza Strip, Qatari Ambassador and Head of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip Mohamed Al-Emadi said on Tuesday. Anadolu reported Al-Emadi telling journalists in Gaza that the Qatari Emir ordered a $31m grant to pay the salaries of the civil sector employees in Gaza. “This is to lessen the hardships of the difficult life in the Gaza Strip,” he said. As the Palestinian banks refused to receive the grant, Al-Emadi said that the grant was deposited in the account of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. He noted that the committee had received a list with the names of the Gaza employees and is willing to pay the salaries in the same way as the previous grant was paid which is through government post offices. Al-Emadi also said that the Qatari committee had invited Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to visit Gaza in order to take part in the inauguration of the second phase of Sheikh Hamas Housing City in the south of the Gaza Strip. In addition, he said that contracts for new projects worth $40m would be signed with contractors from Gaza during his current visit. He noted that every single step regarding the work of the committee in Gaza is carried out with the “full coordination” of the PA.
Builders sought for underground Gaza border wall
Times of Israel 3 Aug by Stuart Winer — The Defense Ministry has published the first tender for a project to build a massive barrier along the border with the Gaza Strip — both subterranean and aboveground — intended to stop terror groups from tunneling into Israel. A closed tender was sent earlier this week to 20 Israeli companies to build the wall, the Hebrew-language Ynet news website reported on Wednesday. The project would cover the first 10-kilometer section of the planned 60-kilometer wall. Due to the specialist nature of the work, which involves deep drilling, the Israeli companies will need to avail themselves of foreign contractors’ expertise. But many qualified foreign companies have refused to take on the project, citing the political sensitivity of working on Israeli defense projects, the report said. The report cited the Defense Ministry saying, however, that it was not aware of any such refusals on political grounds. A Defense Ministry spokeswoman declined to comment on the report to AFP. A start date for the construction has been set for October and the work will be split among four companies. One of the companies expected to compete for the project is Solel Boneh, which is already working on a trial stretch of wall, several hundred meters long, in southern Israel. The planned barrier was said set to include both aboveground and underground protections against infiltration from the coastal enclave, utilizing both physical barriers and improved technological detection. The underground barrier, proposed following the 2014 Gaza war during which Hamas fighters infiltrated into Israel through tunnels, will reportedly cost NIS 2.2 billion ($570 million), far less than previous estimations that put it at a prohibitive tens of billions of shekels….
PM, defense minister reject plan to build Gaza port on artificial island
Israel Hayom 5 Aug by Shlomo Cesana — A proposed artificial island and seaport off the Gaza Strip coast appears to be sinking. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have spoken out against Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz’s plan for the port, citing an inability to guarantee goods and people entering and exiting the port are monitored and checked. In a response to a question from Israel Hayom earlier this week about the proposed port, Netanyahu called security checks at the port “problematic.” Lieberman, siding with Netanyahu on the issue, said he is “firmly” opposed to the creation of a port. “We cannot guarantee effective security checks,” he said. However, contrary to Netanyahu’s and Lieberman’s stated positions, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security agency maintain there is no security reason not to build the island, senior diplomatic sources say. Sources at the Foreign Ministry and the Finance Ministry also believe that an offshore seaport is an appropriate solution from a diplomatic and financial perspective. Katz recently called for the creation of an interministerial team to advance the project, but his request was denied by the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet….
Gaza sewage plant will receive electricity from Israel
JPost 5 Aug by Sharon Udasin — Although a new power line would likely be a reliable source of electricity, there is still concern that the power could be diverted by Hamas, Ben-Dahan said — Just a week after US congressmen pressed Israeli officials to provide sufficient electricity to Gaza’s sewage treatment plant, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said that the country is committed to meeting the facility’s increasing needs. The treatment facility in question is the Northern Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment (NGEST) Project, a World Bank plant in the strip’s Beit Lahiya area, which has been largely inoperative due to electricity shortages. In response to a question posed by MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union) in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, Ben-Dahan said that the government has approved three different solutions that could fulfill the electricity needs of the wastewater treatment plant. Last week, a bipartisan group of congressmen sent a letter to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, demanding that Israel provide a solution to the electricity supply problem that the future plant faces, Globes first reported. The congressmen wrote the letter in response to a recent government decision to increase the power supply to Gaza by 6 MW. Although the congressmen praised Israel’s decision to sell additional electricity as “an emergency means to power NGEST operations,” they argued that this amount “cannot sustainably power NGEST over the life of the project.”….
Why some Gazans are telecommuting with Israeli firms
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 4 Aug by Fadi Shafei — The widespread use of the internet has allowed some Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to find work online with Israeli companies, although Gazans are divided over the issue — …Israel opened its doors to the Palestinian workforce in 1968; the number of Palestinians working in Israel was nearly 116,000 in 1993, and on the eve of Al-Aqsa intifada this number stood at 120,000 workers. The Israeli government declared Gaza a hostile area after Hamas took over in 2007, and the Israeli Ministry of Security imposed a new policy on the movement of people between the Gaza Strip and Israel. This Israeli policy decides who is allowed to pass through the Erez crossing; the entry of Palestinians from Gaza to Israel to find a job or to work does not fall under this policy. Consequently, the flow of Palestinian workers from Gaza to Israel has stopped permanently and Israel has tried to replace the Palestinian workforce with a workforce of other nationalities. This situation has led to the deterioration of the economic conditions in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics press report of the labor force survey results in Palestine for the second quarter of 2015 indicated that the unemployment rate in Gaza stood at 41.0%; the highest unemployment rate was registered among youth of both sexes ages 15-24 … the widespread use of the internet in Palestine has allowed young Palestinians residing in Gaza to bypass Israel’s tightened policy imposed on the movement of people between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Thus, they overcome the obstacles denying them entry into Israel and take advantage of the absence of Palestinian laws that prevent them from working in Israel — by using the internet instead. Former Al-Monitor contributor Abeer Ayoub, a resident of the Gaza Strip, was able to work online as a journalist with the Israeli Haaretz newspaper. She told Al-Monitor that the internet is the key tool that allowed her to communicate with the Haaretz staff. She said, “Working in the field of journalism is different from other workplaces since the main motive that pushed me to cooperate and publish with an Israeli newspaper is my desire to communicate the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza to the Israeli society.” Ayoub faced widespread criticism on social networking sites by Palestinian activists; she believes this was one of the biggest challenges she encountered….
Art centre draws smiles in faces of Gaza children through music, painting
GAZA (Daily Times) 2 Aug — In the war-torn Palestinian Gaza Strip, a private cultural centre helps children alleviate stress and trauma to restart life through art. At the Atelier Centre in Gaza City, dozens of children gather in rooms and a small garden to learn painting or playing musical instrument. Established in 2012, the centre has since moved to a new location and expanded its programmes to include both drawing and music instruments. Few schools in Gaza teach both. Seba Sarraj, nine, learns drawing and playing guitar at Atelier. “I am really connected to the centre emotionally,” she said. “I have many friends here and I want to continue learning here.” The centre, which enrolls children between eight and 16, charges a small fee for the courses, taking into consideration the dire economic situation in the poverty-stricken enclave. The number of students has been growing steadily as more parents become aware of the centre’s positive results in improving the learners’ artistic aptitude and easing their stress and trauma….
Children from war-torn Gaza show that ‘the beautiful game’ can flourish anywhere
DublinLive 31 July — The kids from the Gaza strip visited Ballybrack today for a special game of soccer and caused quite the shock — No matter where you come from ‘the beautiful game’ is a language that unites everybody. The fact that soccer can bring joy to even the darkest corners of the globe was on display in Dublin today when a team from one of the world’s most war-torn areas visited for a challenge game. A team from the Al Helal Football Club from the Gaza strip came to Ballybrack for an international friendly game. Gaza is one of the most dangerous places in the world to grow up- 556 children died there in 2014. But thoughts of war and death were a distant memory for the 14 Palestinian players who are playing a series of games against Irish teams over the next nine days. But home was close in sight as local people in Ballybrack, Co Dublin, hoisted Palestinian flags on street posts to welcome the children as they lined out against Ballybrack FC. A party atmosphere unfolded as the two sides competed – 14 players from Gaza aged between nine and 14 and up to 40 Ballybrack players, taking turns on the field to share what Ballybrack chair Theresa Waters remarked would be “a tale they’ll share with their grandkids.” “This was a historic, amazing day for Ireland,” Ms Waters said. “All that mattered was the beautiful game. “The children from Gaza were fantastic footballers. They are tiny but brilliant players – and their goalkeeper was fabulous. They ran rings round our kids. “The Al Helal team won 2-0 and at the end of the festivities they just started spontaneously singing and dancing for the crowd – it nearly broke my heart.” Despite the fanfare of the occasion – and the fact it seemed most of Ballybrack had turned out to watch the children from two different worlds play a game of football – there was a serious undertone to the event. The children arrived in Dublin for a 10-day tour, on Friday, around two weeks after the Israeli authorities initially failed to grant them permits to travel … But sadly, one child, Karam Zadan, 14, injured in a shell blast, was left behind – a fact that is clearly not far away from the thoughts of Al Helal as they video moments from their trip for their friend. He was the only child not issued a permit by the Israelis in the end. Zoe Lawler from GAI said: “Imagine to leave one child out of 15 behind. Karam is a child who’s been injured in an attack and he has shell injuries. He has also suffered trauma – yet he’s still a really good player. You have to wonder why the Israeli authorities did not want that child in particular to travel to Ireland – is it because they didn’t want the Irish to see his injuries?”….
Is Gaza facing an opioid epidemic? / Shlomi Eldar
Al-Monitor 5 Aug — Addiction to Tramadol, a drug that affects the central nervous system and is used primarily to treat severe pain, is yet another symptom of the plight that so many Gazans face after nine years of living under closure, since June 2007. It appears that abusing Tramadol has become a way of dealing with the absence of any hope for change in the foreseeable future. Frequent Israeli military operations against Gaza, economic duress, soaring unemployment and the day-to-day anxiety that is part and parcel of Gazans’ harsh lives have led many residents — hundreds of thousands, according to Palestinian sources — to take Tramadol on a regular basis. Exact figures on the extent of the epidemic are not available, but sources in Gaza told Al-Monitor that there is someone in just about every household who regularly consumes the drug. Tramadol first arrived in Gaza through the Rafah tunnels, after Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007, a time when smuggling through the tunnels flourished. Y., a pharmacist from central Gaza who requested anonymity, told Al-Monitor that from the time the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt in 2012 until Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Tramadol was a hot commodity in Gaza. He estimated that some half a million pills were sold per day … “This pill is given to patients after surgery. It is not recommended for daily use, but given the overwhelming sense of distress in the Gaza Strip and the cheap cost of a pack of Tramadol, it became a staple in every home.” It seems as if no one warned the many consumers of the range of serious effects that Tramadol can have on regular users, including the risk of addiction to the drug, which probably seemed like an innocent and effective way to suppress personal crises….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Video: Many Palestinians injured in Kafr Qaddoum
IMEMC 6 Aug — Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, Kufur Qaddoum town, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia, and attacked the weekly nonviolent protest, leading to clashes and many injuries. Morad Eshteiwy, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum, said the soldiers invaded the town just as the residents started marching, and fired live rounds, gas bombs, and concussion grenades. Eshteiwy added that many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation; especially during clashes that took place after the soldiers assaulted the protesters. The weekly procession started from the center of the town, as the Palestinians marched carrying Palestinian flags and chanted against the ongoing Israeli occupation and escalating violations. Last night, several army vehicles, including an armored bulldozer, invaded Kufur Qaddoum, before the soldiers stormed the homes of Mofeed Eshteiwy, Mohammad Amer, and Riyadh Eshteiwy, and violently searched..
Several Palestinians injured in Beit Ummar
IMEMC 6 Aug — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday afternoon, Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and clashed with local youths who hurled stones at them; the army fired gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing many residents to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Mohammad Awad, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against Colonies in Hebron, said the soldiers invaded ‘Aseeda area, in the eastern part of Beit Ummar, and fired gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing many injuries. The soldiers fired several gas bombs at farmers on their lands, also causing many of them to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Awad stated that the soldiers frequently invade Beit Ummar, and conduct provocative acts by installing roadblocks, in addition to breaking into homes and searching them while interrogating the Palestinians.
Army invades Beit ‘Awwa, near Hebron
IMEMC 5 Aug — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at dawn, the town of Beit ‘Awwa, southwest of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and fired several live rounds, concussion grenades, and flares. Local sources in Beit ‘Awwa said the soldiers surrounded the town before invading it, and opened fire on protesters, who hurled stones and empty bottles at the military vehicles. The soldiers also fired many flares, live rounds, and concussion grenades, causing several children to suffer anxiety attacks. The Israeli army said one of its military towers, guarding Naghot illegal colony, was attacked with Molotov cocktails. Also at dawn, several Israeli military vehicles invaded Be’er al-Basha village, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and Deir Abu Da‘if village, east of Jenin, searched homes and kidnapped one Palestinian.
Video: Norwegian, Japanese and Spanish delegates participate in Bil‘in’s weekly nonviolent protest
IMEMC 6 Aug — Villagers of Bil‘in, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, held the weekly nonviolent protest, on Friday, in participation with Israeli activists and delegates from Norway, Japan, and Spain, demanding ending the illegal Israeli occupation, and marched in solidarity with hunger striking detainees in Israeli prisons. The nonviolent protesters marched carrying Palestinian flags and posters of detainee Bilal Kayed, and dozens of striking detainees, while chanting against the ongoing Israeli occupation and violations. They demanded the release of Kayed, who is held under arbitrary administrative detention orders, without charges or trial, after he already served his 15.5 prison sentence, and called for the release of all detainees. Following the protest, the visiting delegates listened to the history of nonviolent struggle in Bil‘in, and the successes of the ongoing protests in retrieving illegally confiscated Palestinian lands and rerouting the illegal Annexation Wall. The delegates also listed to a detailed account of the types of weapons used by the soldiers, and the ongoing punitive invasions into the village as an act of collective punishment by the army in an attempt to stop the protests.
Arresting four Jerusalemites from the village of Al-Tur … extensions of arrest
SILWANIC 3 Aug — The occupation forces arrested on Wednesday early morning four Jerusalemites after raiding their homes in the village of Al-Tur in Jerusalem. Lawyer Mohammad Mahmoud explained that the Israeli forces arrested Seif Eddin Maher Abu Jom’a (21) and his 18-year old brother Amir, Kamal Mohammad Alami (20) and Yousef Issa Abu Jom’a (17). The forces also arrested the freed prisoner Sam Al-A’raj after stopping him at the checkpoint of Shu‘fat refugee camp.
On the other hand, the Israeli judges extended the arrest of Wadi’ Alayan, Ahmad Abulhawa, Anas Dirbas, Nabil Sider, Zakaria Bakri, Ahmad Odeh and Mustafa Abu Hummos until 9/8/2016, Mohammad Abbasi until 14/8/2016, Mohammad Halayqa until 22/8/2016, Mohammad Mheisen until completing the legal procedures against him, Yousef Falah until 5/8/2016, Yazan N’aji and Ali Atyeh until 6/10/2016, Mouath Abed Rabbo until 21/9/2016, Ata Awadallah until 10/10/2016 and Ali Zahdeh until 14/8/2016. The District Court confirmed the administrative arrest imposed on Ahmad Abu Mayaleh until 25/10/2016.
Border Policemen questioned under caution, say tried to protect girl
Ynet 4 Aug by Roi Yanovsky — The two Border Policemen documented taking a bicycle from an 8-year-old Palestinian girl in Hebron were questioned under cautious at the Police Investigation Unit on Tuesday on suspicion of abuse of power. The soldiers’ lawyers said that “What looks in the video as cruelty towards a helpless girl was actually an act to protect the girl who sought to cross the road into the city’s Jewish Quarter. The policemen, who realized that she was taking a risk and could not communicate with her in her language, took her bike from her and in that prevented the danger.” The lawyers went on to say that “When it became clear to (the Border Policemen) that the girl understood the risk in riding straight into the Jewish Quarter, they allowed her to come back and retrieve the bicycle.” “The main lesson to learn from this is that judging an incident purely based on a video without even the least bit of interest in the officers’ version is a vicious and ugly thing,” they added. Anwar Burqan, an eight year old Palestinian girl, lives in a-Salaimeh neighborhood in Hebron, near the Cave of the Patriarchs. On Monday of last week, she was playing with her siblings on a road not far from her home that is meant for the exclusive use of Jews and that Palestinians are barred from entering. The Border Policeman is seen in the video running towards the girl, an act that scared her, leading her to get off her bike. He is heard asking her “What are you doing here?” causing the girl to burst out in tears….
Israeli forces killed 10-year-old Palestinian, blamed ‘family dispute’
MEMO 5 Aug — Israeli forces shot and killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy last month, despite initially denying any involvement with the death, according to a new statement by Israeli NGO B’Tselem. On July 19, Border Police officers operating in al-Ram responded to stone-throwing by Palestinian youths with tear gas and black sponge rounds. One of the rounds hit Muhyi a-Din a-Tabakhi in the chest, and he later died of his wounds in hospital. According to an eyewitness, who himself was shot in the hand with a black sponge round when he went to aid the child, a-Tabakhi was shot from a distance of approximately 30 metres. At the time, an Israeli newspaper [Haaretz] reported that the Israeli military denied responsibility, and “speculated that the boy’s death was a result of a local dispute between rival families.” B’Tselem noted that there have been 32 documented instances in recent years of Israeli police officers firing sponge rounds “unlawfully”, injuring Palestinians and an Israeli journalist in Occupied East Jerusalem. One victim, another 10-year-old boy, lost an eye. On August 31, 2014, an Israeli police officer in East Jerusalem fired a black sponge round at 15-year-old Palestinian Muhammad Sunuqrut, who died of his wounds on 4 September.
It’s time for Israelis to acknowledge that Arab lives matter
+(72 blog3 Aug by Orit Kamir — As Israelis debate whether an Israeli soldier should or shouldn’t have killed an incapacitated Palestinian, it becomes clear that we know close to nothing about the victims of the occupation — Elor Azaria is an Israeli soldier, a paramedic, who shot and killed a Palestinian civilian that had previously tried to stab Israeli soldiers in Hebron. Azaria shot the Palestinian in the head when the man was lying on the ground, at Azaria’s feet, helpless and defenseless. Since the event was photographed and publicized, Elor Azaria has been put on trial for manslaughter. His trial is the talk of the town and the country is up in arms over it. Many Israelis — including leading politicians and government members — support Azaria and consider him a hero. Prime Minister Netanyahu called his parents to express his support and sympathy. Israeli media and public discourse never tire of scrutinizing every little detail related to him. Yet no one seems to remember his victim, the young man whose life he took: Abdel Fatah al-Sharif. Having read media coverage of Azaria’s ADHD, it suddenly hit me that I knew nothing, not a single thing, of his victim; the person whose killing seems to be shaking Israeli society to its core. I know not where he lived, what his life was like, what caused him to go out on his suicide mission. I have no idea what his face looked like; what his eyes conveyed: no one bothered to supply me with his photo. A lengthy search on the internet revealed little: al-Sharif was 21 years old when he died. His body was returned by Israel to his family, and his funeral gave rise to anti-Israeli sentiment. That’s it. That’s all I could find. Apparently, that’s all we, Israelis, want to know about the victim of the killing that supposedly has us exasperated….
Prices of illegal weapons in West Bank on the rise
Al-Monitor 5 Aug by Daoud Kuttab — A marked increase in the black market price of weapons in the occupied territories has produced a flurry of attention. Press reports have indicated for example that the coveted M16 gun that used to be sold for 40,000 shekels ($10,400) a year ago is currently sold for 65,000 shekels ($17,000). Pundits are not clear as to the reason for this spike and whether it is a result of the Israeli crackdown on smuggling on the Jordanian and Egyptian borders, or of the Palestinian security campaigns following fatal shootings in local feuds. A third argument suggests that maybe Palestinians are hording guns in fear of potential lawlessness and chaos in the Palestinian territories … According to Palestinian police spokesman Maj. Gen. Adnan al-Damiri, illegal weapons come from two sources: homemade guns and smuggled weapons. Damiri told Al-Monitor that the Palestinian security forces have been working hard to crack down on anyone possessing unregistered guns. “We have launched wide and continuous efforts to close gun-making shops and to arrest anyone who carries a gun that is not properly registered and licensed,” he said. All weapons’ serial numbers are registered with the Palestinian government and are shared with Israeli security. Other than the official security officials, only persons whose jobs require personal protection, such as money changers and private security men, are allowed to register their weapons. Damiri said that in the past year, four gun-making shops were raided and closed down and hundreds of individuals with illegal guns, including security officials, have had their guns confiscated and have been imprisoned….
Israeli forces close roads in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — Israeli forces Friday closed several roads leading to the village of Beita in the southern part of the occupied West Bank district of Nablus. According to a Ma‘an reporter, Israeli forces closed the Beita-Odala road and the Awarta-Odala road with large dirt mounds, while large cement blocks were placed on the road from Huwwara to Beita. Israeli forces also set up a military checkpoint on the main road leading to Beita, and searched the IDs of those leaving the village. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces imposed the closures on the village following numerous incidents of Palestinians throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli settler vehicles on the main Huwwara road over previous days.
Israel Prison Service: Palestinian hunger striker cuffed to hospital bed to prevent kidnapping
Haaretz 5 Aug by Almog Ben Zikri — The lawyers for a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner have asked a court that he no longer be handcuffed to his bed and be allowed to be treated by a doctor of his choosing. Bilal Kayed, 36, is still being held after completing a 14-year sentence for offenses during the second intifada. He is now at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center because of his hunger strike – now more than 50 days long – that began when he was not released as expected earlier this summer. On Thursday, the Be’er Sheva District Court heard a petition submitted by Kayed’s lawyers, who are representing him on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights. The prison service said Kayed is handcuffed to his bed in part to prevent an attempt to free him. Kayed belongs to the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and is considered a leader of PFLP prisoners in Israel.
Also Thursday, the prison service evacuated wings housing Palestinian prisoners affiliated with Hamas, citing signs of a possible conspiracy. In response, more than 250 Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike.
41 Palestinian women, including 12 minors, currently held in Israel’s HaSharon prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — Several dozen Palestinian women, including 12 minors, are currently being held in Israel’s HaSharon prison, according to a statement released Thursday by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. The committee said in the statement that 41 Palestinian women and girls are being held in the prison, with some suffering from deteriorating health conditions, adding that Israel’s treatment of women prisoners is against international law, and requires “international institutions to end their silence” and to stop Israel’s “perpetual crimes.” … The committee identified the women prisoners as: Lina al-Jarbouni, Banan al-Mafarjeh, Yasmin Zaru Tamimi, Yasmin Shaaban, Hadiyeh Ereinat, Natali Shukha, Tasnim Halabi,….According to Addameer, among those detained since October were 13 underaged girls, some of whom were wounded when Israeli forces detained them. The group added that at the closing of 2015, there were 3 Palestinian women held in administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of detention without charge or trial. The group has also reported on the treatment of Palestinian women prisoners by Israeli prison authorities, stating that the majority of Palestinian women detainees were subject to “psychological torture” and “ill-treatment” by Israeli authorities, including “various forms of sexual violence that occur such as beatings, insults, threats, body searches, and sexually explicit harassment.”….
Four Palestinian prisoners suspend their hunger strikes
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — Four Palestinian prisoners Friday suspended their open hunger strikes in Israel’s HaDarim prison, launched on July 18 in protest of a decision by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to reduce family visits for Palestinian male prisoners from two to only one day a month, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said in a statement that prisoners Ziyad al-Bazzar, Ahmad al-Barghouthi, Mahmoud Sarahneh, and Amin Kamil suspended their hunger strikes after receiving promises by Israeli Prison Service (IPS) officials that efforts would be made to reinstate regular family visits for the prisoners. The prisoners told a PPS lawyer that IPS officials deliberately transferred them between several Israeli prisons during their hunger strikes, a common tactic used by IPS officials in an attempt to force prisoners into ending their strikes. The prisoners added that each of them had lost some 13 kilograms since the start of their hunger strikes.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel’s hydro-apartheid keeps West Bank thirsty
EI 1 Aug by Charlotte Silver — Water shortages are not new for Palestinians. Whether in the occupied Gaza Strip or the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the supply of water flowing into Palestinian homes is strictly capped or obstructed by Israel. As temperatures climb during the summer, taps run dry. Clemens Messerschmid, a German hydrologist who has worked with Palestinians on their water supply for two decades, calls the situation “hydro-apartheid.” This year, Israeli journalist Amira Hass published data proving that the Israeli Water Authority had reduced the amount of water delivered to West Bank villages. In some places, the supply was slashed by half. Her records contradict official denials that water supplies to Palestinian cities and villages are cut during the summer, even though that too is not new. Cities and small villages have gone as long as 40 days without running water this summer, forcing those who can afford it to haul in water tanks. When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 it also seized control over the West Bank Mountain Aquifer, the territory’s principal natural water reserve. The Oslo accords of the early 1990s gave Israel 80 percent of the aquifer’s reserves. Palestinians were supposed to get the remaining 20 percent, but in recent years they have been able to access only 14 percent as a result of Israeli restrictions on their drilling. To fulfill the population’s minimum needs, the Palestinian Authority is forced to buy the rest of the water from Israel. But even then, it’s not enough….
UN says Israel is forcing Palestinians to leave West Bank area, laying groundwork for annexation
jpudates 3 Aug by Menachem Rephun — The United Nations warned Wednesday that Israel is creating ground conditions forcing Palestinians to leave Area C of the West Bank, possibly leading to an annexation of the area by Israel. The warning was made by Natalie Grove, a representative of the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who said Israel’s policy in Area C creates a “highly coercive environment that forces [Palestinians] to leave.” Her remarks were made at a Knesset conference organized by left-wing Israeli legislators, including Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Arab Joint List … “Forcible [population] transfer is a great breach of the Geneva Convention,” Grove said at the conference. “Israel creates humanitarian need in a place where it should be addressing it. When the humanitarian community seeks to address these needs, Israel tries to prevent it.” For Grove, Israel is an “occupying” power, and as such has responsibilities under international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinians’ rights. “The occupying power has the primary responsibility to meet the basic needs of the population in Area C,” Gove charged. “It does not do so.” Gove ran down a litany of hardships facing Palestinian residents of Area C, including primary school children being forced to walk long distances to reach their nearest school, 180 communities being disconnected from a water network, and the near impossibility of obtaining building permits.” “Palestinians who attempt to repair or upgrade their homes risk demolitions, those who install solar panels risk demolitions, those who dare to install a children’s play center risk demolitions.” Gove said. At the conference, European Union Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Anderson said, “Nearly all of the remaining 30 percent of Area C, much of which is private Palestinian property, is off limits for Palestinian development, because it requires permits that are almost never granted [by Israel].”
How much Palestinian land do Israeli settlements really eat up?
MEMO 4 Aug by Ben White — The Israeli government and its supporters routinely play down the significance of West Bank settlements as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. One recent example of this came from a Jewish Agency spokesperson, who tweeted: “Jewish communities in the West Bank take up under 2% of the land; that is, over 98% of the West Bank contains no Jewish residents at all.” So is this true – and exactly how much of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) do Israel’s settlements take up? 1. What the 2 percent figure omits. Those who cite the 2 percent figure rarely clarify that this refers purely to the built-up area of the settlements. As described in a Human Rights Watch report earlier this year, while “the built-up area of residential settlements covers 6,000 hectares”, there are also “approximately 20 Israeli-administered industrial zones in the West Bank covering about 1,365 hectares, and Israeli settlers oversee the cultivation of 9,300 hectares of agricultural land.” 2. The settlements’ local authorities. The 2 percent figure also obscures a perhaps more significant reality. 23 Jewish local authorities operate in the West Bank: “three municipalities, fourteen local councils and six regional councils.” According to a 2009 United Nations report, 39 percent of the West Bank falls under these authorities’ jurisdiction. Israel has “consistently refused to allocate such land for Palestinian use.” As an example, the report describes how “almost all of the [Jordan Valley and Dead Sea] area falls under the jurisdiction of two [settler] Regional Councils” – the “practical implication” of which “is that, in almost the entirety of the Jordan Valley, Palestinian construction is prohibited.”….
New settler leader insists West Bank ‘definitely not a conflict zone’
JTA 3 Aug by Andrew Tobin — Yesha council head Oded Revivi hopes to persuade global critics and Palestinian issue advocates that Israel’s settlement enterprise in occupied territory is ‘an ecosystem that is working.’ — The Yesha Council has represented Israel’s settlement of the West Bank for four decades. They’ve helped create what appears to be an irreversible reality to both critics and champions. Some 400,000 settlers live in settlements, where they enjoy their own wineries, Israeli chain stores, a university and a security infrastructure staffed by the Israel Defense Forces. In the meantime, much of the world remains opposed to the settlements, which the United Nations considers illegal under international law, and which the United States variously considers “unhelpful” and “illegitimate.” Critics say the Jewish presence in land the Palestinians demand as part of a future state is a major impediment to any Israeli-Palestinian peace plans, including the recently launched French initiative. For the Yesha Council, the umbrella group for Israeli settlements — its name is a Hebrew acronym for Judea and Samaria, the biblical names commonly used in Israel to designate the West Bank, and Gaza — impeding efforts to give back the biblical land of Israel is part of the point. With the French initiative, and possibly a regional peace push, looming, the council last month appointed a new chief foreign envoy to make the settlers’ case to the world. Lt. Col. (res.) Oded Revivi will be the second person to hold the position … JTA: What will you tell the world about the settlers? … The message is, at the end of the day: There are hundreds of thousands of Jews living here, there are a lot of Palestinians living here. There is an ecosystem that is working. It can be improved. There are things that need to be amended. But it’s definitely not a conflict zone. Most of the terrorist attacks occur outside of Judea and Samaria. Yet the myth is that once there won’t be any Jews in Judea and Samaria, there will be peace and quiet in this region….
The World Vision affair
Australia suspends World Vision aid over Hamas funding accusations
SYDNEY (Reuters) 5 Aug – Australia said on Friday it was suspending funding for relief group World Vision’s operations in the Palestinian Territories after allegations its Gaza representative funnelled millions of dollars to the Islamist militant group Hamas. Mohammad El Halabi, World Vision’s manager of operations in Gaza, was arrested by Israel on June 15 while crossing the border into the enclave, which is under the de facto rule of Hamas, a group on Israeli and U.S. terrorism blacklists. A senior Israeli security official on Thursday said Halabi, who has run the group’s Gaza operations since 2010, had been under extended surveillance and had confessed to siphoning off some $7.2 million a year to Hamas. World Vision said it was shocked by the claims, and a Hamas spokesman said the group had no connection with Halabi. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) called the allegations “deeply troubling” and said in a statement that it was “urgently seeking more information from World Vision and the Israeli authorities.” “We are suspending the provision of further funding to World Vision for programs in the Palestinian Territories until the investigation is complete,” it said. Israel welcomed the decision and said it has passed on details of the case to a number of countries from where money is being sent to Gaza. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it “calls on the organization and others dealing in aid to the Gaza Strip to examine themselves and their local partners.” Australia has paid World Vision approximately A$5.7 million (US$4.35 million) over the past three financial years for the provision of aid in the Palestinian Territories, a DFAT spokesman said.
Christian charity rejects Israeli claim funds went to Hamas
EI 4 Aug by Ali Abunimah — The Christian relief, development and advocacy organization World Vision says it is “shocked” by Israeli charges that its Gaza director funnelled tens of millions of dollars to the military wing of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas. “Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true,” World Vision said in a statement on Thursday. The allegations come amid an ongoing Israeli campaign against nongovernmental organizations. The charity confirmed that on 15 June its Gaza operations director Mohammad El Halabi “was arrested on his way home from routine meetings.” On 4 August, “after 50 days in Israeli state detention, Mohammad was charged with providing support to Hamas,” it added. Founded in 1950, World Vision has worked with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1975. In recent months the group says it has carried out extensive work in Gaza, including rehabilitating large tracts of agricultural land, building greenhouses, irrigation and water wells and providing equipment to hundreds of fishermen whose livelihoods have been severely disrupted by constant Israeli military harassment and attacks. –Shin Bet accusations– The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported that Halabi was detained by Israeli forces as he attempted to return to Gaza through the Erez crossing from present-day Israel. According to Haaretz, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency has accused Halabi of funneling “tens of millions of dollars” of World Vision resources to Hamas, “some of it to fund digging military-related tunnels and to purchase weapons.” Citing Shin Bet, The New York Times put the figure at $43 million allegedly funneled to Hamas in just six years. Israel has not explained how such astonishing sums could have gone missing without the charity noticing, especially in Gaza where relatively small sums of development money could have a potentially massive impact… [read Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olam article on this subject: “This is not the first time a Palestinian has been accused of passing funds to “terror groups.” Azmi Bishara, one of the most effective Israeli Palestinian leaders, was driven into exile by similar charges that he used moneylenders to launder tens of thousands of dollars on behalf of Hezbollah….”]
What’s really behind Israel’s attack on Christian charity World Vision?
EI 5 Aug by Ali Abunimah — Israel grabbed global headlines on Thursday with sensational allegations that tens of millions of dollars from the Christian relief and advocacy organization World Vision had been diverted to the military wing of the resistance group Hamas in Gaza. But a day later, the Israeli claims look more than ever like sloppy propaganda. A World Vision official says Israel’s sums don’t add up and it has also emerged that a Mossad-linked Israeli group has been stoking allegations against the charity for years. An Israeli general has said that Israel is relying on a “confession” extracted by an intelligence agency which is notorious for using torture. Israel has also instructed its diplomats to smear World Vision, especially among Christian communities around the world. But if Israel’s intention was to damage international humanitarian efforts in Gaza, it can chalk up a success, at least for now. Australia, which has given World Vision about $5 million in the last three years for projects in Gaza, said it was suspending contributions pending an investigation. Indeed, ending humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, or at least bringing it under even tighter Israeli control, looks like the purpose of the allegations.
“It doesn’t add up” In June, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency arrested World Vision’s Gaza director Mohammad El Halabi and interrogated him for more than 50 days, a fact that only came to light this week. Israel claims Halabi had diverted up to $50 million to Hamas over the last six years. But on Friday, the CEO of World Vision Australia said this could not be the case. Tom Costello told Australia’s SBS public broadcaster that World Vision’s program in Gaza amounts to only around $2 to $3 million a year. “If every cent has been diverted, it doesn’t add up to $50 million,” he said. “I’ve been there, the [Australian] Department of Foreign Affairs has been there, PwC [professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers] audit our books,” Costello added…
–Targeting humanitarian aid– In recent months, Israel has launched a major crackdown on domestic and Palestinian nongovernmental organizations through intimidation campaigns and repressive legislation. There are indications that the assault on World Vision is the international counterpart to this campaign. Israel has ordered its representatives around the world to go on an offensive over the matter….
Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (28 July-3 August)
PCHR-Gaza 4 Aug — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt A Palestinian civilian was killed at Howarah checkpoint, south of Nablus. 13 Palestinian civilians were wounded, including 3 children and a young woman. Israeli forces conducted 78 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, 6 ones in Jerusalem and limited one in the Gaza Strip. 81 civilians were arrested, including 7 children. 19 civilians of them, including 3 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Two turneries were closed in Qalqilya. Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures against Palestinian civilians. A civilian was forced to self-demolish his house in al-Thawri neighbourhood and another was also forced to close his café in al-Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. 600-square-meter car shop and 3 barracks were destroyed in al-Nabi Simo’eel village. The civil administration crews accompanied with the Israeli forces destroyed a residential caravan in al-Dam Valley in Beit Hanina neighbourhood. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. A civilian was forced to self-demolish a residential room. 11 residential buildings were levelled in Qalandiya village adjacent to the annexation wall. A house in Silwan and another one and a commercial facility in al-‘Issawiyah were demolished. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the sea 3 shooting incidents were carried out against Palestinian fishing boats in the central, northern and southern Gaza Strip. [Details of these and other events follow]
Hamas, Fatah no longer the only candidates in Palestinian elections
GAZA CITY 5 Aug by Moath al-Amoudi — In a bid to break the acute polarization between Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinian left-wing forces are running in the Palestinian elections on a unified list. This is the first time that left-wing factions have run in Palestinian elections as part of a unified list. In the previous Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 these factions ran in separate lists, such as the list of Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Alternative list affiliated with the coalition of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA), the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) and the Independent Palestine list affiliated with the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI). In a July 28, 2015, interview with a PFLP-affiliated website, Kayed al-Ghul, a member of the PFLP’s political bureau, said, “The five left-wing factions — the PFLP, DFLP, PPP, FIDA and PNI — agreed to form a unified list consisting of figures affiliated with the democratic current to participate in the Oct. 8 local council elections.” … Ghul added, “What is required now is to break the acute polarization between Fatah and Hamas plaguing the Palestinian society since the Fatah-Hamas dichotomy. This pushed the left-wing forces to unite and provide a unified vision with social dimensions that serve all Palestinians and not a particular movement.”….
Largest Palestinian team to date arrives in Rio for Olympics
IMEMC 6 Aug by Celine Hagbard — Six Palestinian athletes representing Palestine walked in the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Rio on Friday – marking the largest team since Palestine began competing in the Olympics in 1996. The team wore traditional embroidered dresses and kaffiyeh scarves, and waved the Palestinian flag. No athlete representing Palestine has yet won a medal in the Olympics, which sports analysts say is not surprising, considering the lack of facilities in Palestine, and travel restrictions imposed by the Israeli military authorities that control all aspects of Palestinian life. Because of these restrictions, Palestinian athletes are prevented not only from traveling abroad for competitions, but also from traveling within Palestine for competitions with other Palestinian athletes. The Palestinian Olympic team in 2016 consists of: Mayda al-Sayed – Women’s marathon Mary al-Atrash – Swimming – Women’s 50m freestyle Ahmed Gebrel – Swimming – Men’s 200m freestyle Mohammed Abukhousa – Track and Field – Men’s 100m Simon Yacoub – Judo – Men’s 60 kg Christian Zimmermann – Equestrian…
Despite some Israeli commentators’ claims that the six members of the team are not all Palestinian [e.g. one is half German and half Palestinian], the Palestinian athletes have provided documentation of their Palestinian identity – although a couple of them are refugees unable to return to their homeland by the Israeli occupation authorities.
Who notices when a Palestinian construction worker falls to his death?
+972 blog 4 Aug by Ruti Feuchtwanger — Abed al-Harush is the 22nd construction worker killed in a work accident this year. That’s a number you won’t hear in the mainstream Israeli press — Have you heard of Abed al-Harush from the West Bank city of Yatta? Probably not. And that’s not your fault. Most of us haven’t heard about him or his death, since it received very little attention in the press. No top headline, despite the fact that he deserved one, considering the way he died. Al-Harush is the 22nd construction worker who has died in a work accident in 2016. He was killed on Wednesday, July 27 on 1 Popel Street in the city of Rishon LeZion. Warnings about the project’s lack of safety had been previously sounded to the team’s head of safety. For Abed al-Harush it ended with death. He fell from the seventh story after stepping on an improvised surface that collapsed. He didn’t stand a chance. His death passed without much noise, just like that of 21 other workers who were killed before him this year, and Turkish laborer Younis Uzdamir who was killed this week and another construction worker who was killed this morning. There have been approximately 300 cases of construction worker deaths in the past decade — not including those in the occupied territories, which the head of occupational safety does not include in official reports … It is sad to say it, but it’s easy to just move on from the issue, since most construction workers who are injured or die are not Jewish Israelis — they are usually Arab citizens of Israel, Palestinians from the occupied territories, or foreign workers. They have no voice. No one counts them. These aren’t localized incidents — this is policy. A policy of ignoring general safety rules, ignoring warnings, enforcement that hardly exists, a failure to take legal steps….
Hamas: PA arrests our members in West Bank over elections activities
MEMO 4 Aug — Islamic Palestinian Movement Hamas yesterday accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) security services of arresting and investigating its members over their preparations for the municipal elections due in October, Quds Press reported. Hamas spokesman in the occupied West Bank Faze’ Sawafta said: “The PA security services arrested six Hamas members, well-known for their social activities, and summoned scores of others for investigations in different areas across the West Bank.” The PA’s actions are “unjustified”, he said, adding that the PA wanted to send a message to Hamas that it should not take part in the upcoming elections. Spokesperson for the PA security services, Adnan Al-Dameeri, denied any Hamas members were detained. “Some prisoners were arrested for violating public order and owning illegal weapons,” he said, adding that a number of Fatah members were amongst the detainees. Safa news agency confirmed that a number of Fatah members were detained however it reported that they had been held following clashes between Fatah and PA officials.
Classical notes from Palestine
MEMO 5 Aug — The Palestine Youth Orchestra concluded its first ever UK tour this week with a concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Established in 2004 by the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, the orchestra performed music by Beethoven and songs by legendary Arab singers Fairuz and Um Kalthoum. Palestinian vocalist, flutist and composer Nai Barghouti joined the orchestra. The situation in Palestine makes it impossible for the orchestra to rehearse together in the Occupied Territories ahead of their tours and so members meet in Jordan, their manager Zeina Khouri told MEMO. This year, the PYO was hosted in Glasgow, where they rehearsed before embarking on their UK tour which took them to Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff and London. Travel restrictions on Palestinians also limit the movement of the orchestra’s members and this year, two musicians from the Gaza Strip were unable to join the tour as Israel did not provide them with the necessary travel permits.
MEP setting up pro-West Bank caucus in European Parliament
Ynet 4 Aug by Elisha Ben Kimon — Czech MEP Petr Mach intends to establish the first official intergroup to support West Bank settlements and, inter alia, combat BDS in the European Parliament — Soon, an official intergroup of friends the West Bank in the European Parliament will come into being for the first time. The intergroup, a form of caucus, will be composed of more than ten members of European Parliament (MEPs) from several countries, headed by Czech MEP Petr Mach (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group). The parliamentarian met on Wednesday with Samaria Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan in Prague to formalize the intergroup’s formation. In the past, officials from the regional council have held meetings in the European Parliament, and they have even been partners in organizing a conference there, but there has never been an official intergroup supporting settlements in the West Bank. The “group of friends,” as Mach called it, will begin working when the European Parliament returns from its summer recess in September. One of its goals will be to oppose marking products from the West Bank and the BDS movement in general. Over the past three year, the Samaria Regional Council has hosted some 150 parliamentarians from all over the world and some 300 foreign journalists. This is how the connection was made to Mach, who visited the area in one of these group tours. Mach claimed that Czechia has been friendly to Israel since its creation, maintaining that, despite changing governmental positions, the Czech people have always supported the Jewish State.
German university drops Palestinian seminar amid accusations of anti-Semitism
AP 5 Aug — After Jewish groups call a course about youth in the Palestinian territories anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli, the university says it will redesign its content — A German university is ditching a seminar about young people in the Palestinian territories that faced accusations of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli content. The University of Applied Sciences and Arts in the northern city of Hildesheim said Friday it is redesigning its teaching on the Middle East conflict and social work in the coming academic year. It will drop a seminar “on the social situation of young people in Palestine.” Germany’s Central Council of Jews and others had criticized that course. The university has said the criticism centered on material heavily critical of Israel which “only serve as reading materials and are used to train students in critical discourse,” but did not reflect its political views. University President Christiane Dienel said: “There is no place for anti-Semitism at our university.”
Black student censured in St. Louis for challenging Israeli spin
EI 2 Aug by Nora Barrows-Friedman — St. Louis University has upheld its punishment of a student for criticizing Israel. During a student-organized event celebrating Israel’s humanitarian aid ventures around the world in April, Christopher Winston, then a sophomore, challenged the speakers with evidence of Israel’s human rights violations. Student organizers threatened to call the campus police on Winston, the only Black person in the room. They subsequently filed a “no-contact” order against him, claiming they were “concerned for their health and well-being.” The university charged that Winston was involved in a “bias-related incident.” Along with mandating that he meet university officials and write a letter explaining his actions, St. Louis University gave Winston a disciplinary warning, which will be in effect until May 2017. Winston complained about the punishment to the university’s appeal board, asserting that he was not given a proper chance to refute the allegations against him. In a letter dated 8 June, the board said it upheld the university’s findings that he was responsible for “disruptive behavior.” The letter was seen by The Electronic Intifada. The level of punishment “is outrageous,” said Rahul Saksena, staff attorney with the organization Palestine Legal…. A video posted to YouTube, above, shows Winston remarking on attacks by Israeli forces against Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances and politely challenging the presenters….
Spanish Israel lobby group deals triple blow to BDS movement in Spain
JPost 3 Aug by Lidar Gravé-Lazi — ACOM has presented lawsuits against every single city council or public institution that has declared a boycott against Israel — ACOM, an Israel lobby group working to combat BDS in Spain, won legal victories against three municipalities this week. The group claimed its first victory after a court ruling suspended the effects of a local boycott against Israel in the Olesa Municipality on the outskirts of Barcelona. The court acknowledged that local boycott agreements against Israel may be brought before Spanish courts, thereby rebutting points contained in a report being disseminated among city halls, commissioned by the Solidarity Network Against the Occupation of Palestine, an umbrella group of pro-BDS supporters. The judge stated that a local boycott agreement produced legal effects, even if no measures are actually taken and if there is only the potential for such actions. “The sheer existence of a local agreement of this nature implies the possibility of denying participation to any entity or person of Israeli nationality or origin in any contract or activity sponsored by the city council,” the judge stated. A few days later, a Madrid Court suspended boycott agreements against Israel adopted by the Rivas Vaciamadrid City Council….
Prosecutors launch new legal attack on Palestinian American leader Rasmea Odeh
Justice4Rasmea.org 5 Aug — Attorneys representing Palestinian American icon, Rasmea Odeh, are pushing back against a new legal attack by federal prosecutors. .In a July 21 filing, Rasmea’s defense team went on record as “strongly opposing” an attempt by prosecutors to subject her to questioning at a “mental examination” prior to an already scheduled Daubert hearing, which itself determines if an expert witness can testify at trial. This is especially important in Rasmea’s case, because the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that trial Judge Gershwin Drain erred in deciding that expert testimony concerning her mental state was irrelevant to her defense. That error led to Rasmea’s unjust conviction in 2014. On November 29, Judge Drain will hear arguments as to whether Dr. Mary Fabri’s testimony is scientifically valid and applicable to the facts of the case. Recall that before the 2014 trial, Dr. Fabri, a nationally renowned clinical psychologist who has worked with torture survivors for over 25 years, was prepared to testify as to how Rasmea’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), caused by the torture and rape she experienced at the hands of Israeli military interrogators in 1969, affected her answers to questions on complex immigration forms decades later in the U.S….
US police chiefs visit Israel to learn counter-terrorism techniques
JPost 3 Aug by Daniel K. Eisenbud — Citing Israel’s preeminence in counter-terrorism operations, US police chiefs are visiting the country as part of an ADL delegation to learn advanced training techniques from Israel Police. Among the delegation are chiefs of the Orlando, Florida and San Bernadino, California, police departments, who recently witnessed unprecedented terrorist attacks in their cities. Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said approximately a dozen senior law enforcement officers from across the US are participating in the National Counter- Terrorism Seminar, an annual one-week event which the organization hosts. “We bring top-level law enforcement from the States to Israel to learn about civil society here, the role that law enforcement plays in terms of protecting communities with regard to terrorism, and to provide a better sense to American law enforcement about Israel,” Segal said on Tuesday….
The Israeli company that fenced in Gaza eyes Trump’s Mexico wall
Bloomberg 2 Aug by Jonathan Ferziger — The border security business is thriving and that’s good news for Magal Security Systems Ltd. boss Saar Koursh. His biggest showroom: the Gaza Strip. The Israeli company, which wrapped Gaza in a fence to prevent militant attacks, has helped construct barriers along the Egyptian and Jordanian frontiers. It’s now competing for the contract to build a wall on Kenya’s border with Somalia, Koursh, Magal’s chief executive officer, said. If Donald Trump makes it to the White House, Mexico could be next. “The border business was down, but then came ISIS and the Syrian conflict,” Koursh, 44, said in an interview, using an acronym for Islamic State. “The world is changing and borders are coming back big-time.” … Gaza, the scene of three wars with Israel since 2008, has become a key sales prop for Magal’s “smart fences,” which are integrated with video cameras, ground sensors, motion detectors and satellite monitoring. Palestinians say Israel’s fencing project has turned the Hamas-ruled area into a prison trapping its 1.8 million residents….
A guide to digital security for activists
EI 2 Aug by Jillian C. York — The last year has seen an uptick in digital threats faced by individuals and organizations around the world, and those working on the question of Palestine are no exception. Over the past few months, there have been attacks on boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement websites, threatening emails to activists and new information emerging on Israel’s surveillance capabilities. “The latest cyber-attacks against BDS seem to be part of a full-fledged Israeli war on the movement that includes McCarthyite legal repression, use of intelligence services and yet more funding for ‘brand Israel’ propaganda,” said Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC). “These attacks smack of Israel’s despair at its growing isolation around the world, after failing for years to stem the growing support for the nonviolent BDS movement as a strategic and effective means to achieve Palestinian rights under international law.” Following several new stories involving digital threats to BDS and solidarity activists, I started speaking with different people in the movement to learn more about the specific concerns faced by individuals….